Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MY COLLECTION 35, THE BLACK CAT BY LEE ELIAS


I’m taking a few days off from my serialized posting of the original art pages to my uncollected 1994 graphic novel, “The Mark In America” to post and blog about one of the highlights of my collection, the complete set of all 9 pages of original artwork, by Lee Elias, to “Banker’s Holiday”, starring the Black Cat. The story was first printed in “Black Cat” #2, published by Harvey Comics in August/September 1946, reprinted in “Black Cat” #10 (1948), and still later in “The Original Black Cat” #5, published by Lorne-Harvey in 1991. This is page #6.


And what a page it is. In panels #1 and #2 we get payoff of the implicit promise of the character’s name and costume as she does chaste and mild SM on the angry male bank robber. In cinema terms these could be seen as two panels of the same scene/camera set-up, keeping both characters almost full figure.

Continuing the cinema analogy, panel #3 would be a cut to the reverse angle, an over-the-shoulder from a new character, an ally of the bank robber. This becomes a medium shot on Black Cat and the bank robber, though this is more a function of slightly smaller panel size and cropping since both characters are still basically the same size in relation to the over all page-as-a-whole.

Panels 5 and 6 are when things really heat up artistically and are part of what makes this story an exceptional gem.

In panel 5, we are graced with yet another crowd shot, composed in exaggerated depth (this would make a great 3D comic). Not only do we get a counterpoint to Black Cat’s dire situation, but check out the tabby cat in the foreground going after whatever is in that barrel. This is completely gratuitous, an expression of artistic joie de vivre on Elias’s part, although I suppose it COULD have been in the script, the same way the cat shadow in page 4, panel 3 could have been scripted.

Panel 6: Whoa! Top this, you ink slinger wanna-be’s! This is another crowd scene, back lit, through a window WITH LETTERING ON IT, and it still READS, everything is CLEAR, you can tell EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING. Before I saw this story, and especially this panel, I dismissed Elias as second-rate Caniff, but I bow my head in shame for doubting Mr. Elias’s artist genius craft. This panel is justification for the entire store story even if the rest of it wasn’t also brilliant.

This is page #6 of 9 from “Banker’s Holiday”, starring Black Cat, from Black Cat #2, published by Harvey Comics in 1946.


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